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Jul 23 2016
by Karly Matthews

A Guide to RNC's Major Protests

By Karly Matthews - Jul 23 2016

The First Amendment of the Constitution gives Americans the “right to peaceably assemble,” and at the Republican National Convention, opposing groups used this freedom to express their beliefs outside the walls of the convention center.

The Cleveland police force prepared for various movements weeks before the RNC was scheduled to occur. Numerous groups with very different beliefs spread their messages through protests, but on the positive side, the groups remained largely peaceful. Throughout the four-day convention, there wasn’t much violence, and only a few encounters resulted in arrests.

100 Naked Women

To protest the pro-life policies supported by the Republican Party platform, one hundred nude women appeared with symbolic mirrors on July 17, one day before the convention was supposed to start. The protest was organized by a photographer named Spencer Tunick, who had been planning for a nude project. These women, who are from both the Democratic and Republican Parties, gathered to combat Republican nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric, which they denounce as anti-women. To learn more about the protest, visit this article, which does obviously include nudity.

"Socialism Sucks"

A conservative organization called Turning Point USA also gathered outside the convention with signs reading "Socialism Sucks," one of the organization’s signature slogans. The signs could be seen during MSNBC’s broadcasts during the convention, making headlines. The protesters also had a discussion with some dissenters – those who support Communism or Socialism – which you can read more about here. Turning Point USA’s founder, Charlie Kirk, was a known presence at the convention and gave a speech during Monday’s proceedings.

Black Lives Matter

The social movement was, of course, a presence at the convention, protesting Trump’s candidacy. Unfortunately, one of the most reported moments regarding the movement was a confrontation with the KKK and Westboro Baptist Church. The three groups were allegedly throwing urine at each other and had to be broken up by policemen. Still, the BLM movement stayed throughout the convention in a largely peaceful way, at one time led by celebrity Nick Cannon.

Day 3 Flag-Burning

One of the most well-known – and controversial – forms of protest against the government is burning the American flag, which is protected as symbolic speech through the Supreme Court case of Texas v. Johnson. Some of the flag burnings at RNC went poorly though, one man lighting his leg on fire instead of the flag. This encounter, one of the few exacerbated protests, resulted in eighteen arrests and two officer injuries.

Contrary to most people’s expectations, the RNC protest were peaceful and fairly low-key throughout the entire four days. In fact, when the protests were analyzed by the Washington Post, reporters found that there wasn’t a single unifying movement to create a large-scale protest. Still, the movements used the convention to spread their messages, which is an essential part of American politics throughout all of history.

Lead Image Credit: Erik Drost via Flickr Creative Commons

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Karly Matthews - Temple University

Karly Matthews is a political science and journalism major with a Spanish minor at Temple University. In high school, she was editor-in-chief of her school's online newspaper, a member of the yearbook staff, a Spanish Club officer and a dancer for 12 years. In her free time, Karly drinks too much coffee and follows politics with an obsessive passion. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karlymatthews_!

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